Finally some good news to come from the Chicago Police Department. According to Superintendent Eddie Johnson, homicides have dropped 14% this year compared to this same point in 2016, as well as a 21% decrease in shootings.
Of course, this statistic should be taken with a pretty large grain of salt. Last year, Chicago logged 771 homicides. So far in 2017, Chicago has seen 636 homicides and is on pace to still hit over 700.
Johnson and the department are aware that there is still much work to be done. “It’s important to keep in mind these numbers aren’t a spike of the football by any means,” he said in a press conference last Friday, and that it’s “going to take time to root out everything we need to do.”
Johnson pointed to the philosophy of community policing, an increase in technology such as predictive crime software as well as strategic decision support centers for helping police combat crime.
According to Crime Lab research manager Kim Smith, “Officers who used to patrol randomly are now more focused on where to be. Being in the right place at the right time is crucial, especially somewhere like Chicago, where there are ever-changing gang conflicts.”
Community activist Father Michael Pfleger also commented on the decrease in homicides. “It’s great there’s a slight decrease from last year, but let’s not forget that last year was the worst in 20 years,” he said. “Let’s not use the barometer of last year. Let’s look over the last three or four years. Hell, anything should look good next to last year.”
And he’s not kidding. From 2006 to 2015, Chicago never saw more than 516 homicides in a year. While not spectacularly low, this was still a lower number and rate the city was seeing in the 1990s, where homicide numbers in the 800s and 900s were common.
As CNN points out, tracking homicide numbers can also be tricky. For example, “CPD does not include killings that occurred on area highways, or those where police are involved and it is determined to be a justifiable homicide.”
Heyjackass.com has one of the most comprehensive systems of tracking homicides in Chicago. They provide a glossary for how shootings are tracked, as well as other legal definitions of criminal activity.
The website breaks down shootings by week, month, and year, as well as comparing this year to last. They also log shootings by neighborhood, the body placement of shootings, police shootings, carjackings (which have severely increased this year) and other crime statistics.
The last day without a shooting or homicide in Chicago was more than 1000 days ago on February 28th, 2015.